The Latest: PG&E says massive power outage is ‘last resort’
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on power shutoffs in California to prevent wildfires (all times local):
Pacific Gas & Electric is defending its decision to shut off power to potentially millions of Californians to prevent deadly wildfires.
PG&E wildfire safety expert Sumeet Singh says Tuesday night that the company’s decision to cut electricity to customers in 34 Northern and Central California counties is “a last resort” in the face of an unprecedented and sweeping wildfire risk from hot, dry weather and gusty winds.
Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier said residents should be outraged by the largest preventive outage in state history.
PG&E says it expects to begin shutting down the power at midnight Wednesday. The utility says some customers could be without power for five days because every inch of power line must be inspected and declared safe before electricity is restored.
California’s governor says residents should be outraged and infuriated by news of a widespread power shut-off to prevent deadly wildfires but that the utility had no choice.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that Pacific Gas & Electric had to make the decision to cut off electricity as forecasts call for hot, dry winds that could spark wildfires.
But he said the company must upgrade and fix its technology so customers do not face anything like this again.
The utility is shutting off power to 800,000 customers in 34 counties in northern and central California starting Wednesday.
Pacific Gas and Electric says it will be setting up more than two dozen community centers with restrooms and electronic-device charging stations for people in counties affected by a power shutdown aimed at reducing wildfire risks.
PG&E says it will open 28 centers across Northern California starting Wednesday at 8 a.m. They will stay open during daylight hours, the company said in a statement.
The centers will also have bottled water and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 people. They will be set up at fairgrounds, senior centers, shopping centers, in churches and other locations.
PG&E says it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in 34 counties starting just after Wednesday at midnight.
A Northern California utility says it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in 34 counties to reduce the risk of wildfire amid dry, windy conditions.
Pacific Gas and Electric says it expects to begin shutting down power in some areas starting just after Wednesday midnight.
Michael Lewis, senior vice president of PG&E’s electric operations, said it could take “several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed.”
Windy conditions are expected to last through midday Thursday.
San Francisco is the only county not affected in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
Residents in California preparing for power shut-offs that could affect more than 700,000 customers are lining up at gas stations to fill their cars and buying generators, flashlights, ice chests and non-perishable food.
Jennifer Siemens lives in Oroville and says she is bracing for a third blackout in a month. She lost power twice after Pacific Gas and Electric cut power to thousands of customers to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires during warm, windy weather.
Siemens says she is making sure they have bottled water, flashlights and all their electric devices fully charged.
She lost her home in Paradise, a town decimated last year by a fire that killed 85 people. The Nov. 8 blaze was started by PG&E power lines.
Siemens says the outages are hard on her family because it scares their children, who were traumatized during the massive Paradise blaze, and affects their cleaning business.
With windy, dry weather in the forecast, California utilities are considering shutting off power to more than 700,000 customers to try to prevent wildfires ignited by electrical equipment.
Southern California Edison’s website showed Tuesday that more than 106,000 customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts.
That’s in addition to the more than 600,000 customers that Pacific Gas & Electric announced a day earlier could be affected.
The largest numbers of potentially affected SoCal Edison customers are in Los Angeles County and to the east in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Also under consideration are areas to the west in Ventura County and to the north in Kern, Tulare, Inyo and Mono counties.
On Monday, Pacific Gas & Electric announced possible blackouts in 30 northern and central counties starting Wednesday.